Back to bare bones!
Reuben Riffel is one of South Africa’s best-known chefs, a celebrity who is known for cooking simply and striving for perfect balance in his dishes. A media personality who is famous both locally and abroad, Reuben has appeared on The Martha Stewart Show and The Today Show, as well as Masterchef South Africa. He currently heads up five restaurants, and despite having won awards such as Chef of the Year and Restaurant of the Year, Reuben still enjoys applying his considerable skills to the humble braai, as we can see from his latest book Braai – Reuben on Fire
(Beef marrow with Salsa Verde)
Serves 4-6 as a snack
Growing up in Groendal on the outskirts of Franschhoek, our family had a Dover stove in our little three-roomed house. We ate very well with a proper feast on Sundays, usually something like pork roast, a curry or beef pot roast that would come with marrow bones that my mother would roast. They were never a meal in themselves, but a bit of a treat. Sitting around a table there would be a lot of sucking and slurping of bones.
Marrow is such a special part of the beast. With pork it’s the crackling, with lamb it’s the fat when cooked properly (my ultimate is that gelatinous bit around the bone), but with beef the gold is definitely in the bones.
The Dover was a wood-burning oven, which added its own unique flavour but with The theory behind Oepsiesthe braai, the inherent smokiness acts as a beautiful added ingredient. You almost need to treat the marrow bones like a crème brûlée, starting with a lot of heat on either side and then lowering the heat as it starts to slow-cook on the inside.
I went to St John in London, which is the high church of offal, and had Chef Fergus Henderson’s famous roasted marrow bones with parsley. I loved them, but because I
prefer a bit more spice for this dish, I’ve added a salsa verde with anchovy. It’s a dish that my grandfather would have loved.
15 marrow bones
1 litre of water
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground
½ red chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped
For the salsa verde
1 red onion
2 garlic cloves
½ chilli, deseeded
5 anchovy fillets
3 handfuls fresh parsley
½ handful of fresh mint
¾ teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
Ground black pepper
Soak the marrow bones in water for an hour. Clean off all the excess meat and season both sides with salt and pepper. Place on a grid and cook each side over high heat for 15 minutes until golden brown on both sides. To make the salsa verde, finely chop the onion, garlic, chilli, gherkins, anchovy, parsley and mint. Mix with the smoked paprika, cumin, mustard and white wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, place the marrow bones on a platter and sprinkle with chilli. Place the salsa verde on the side or dollop on top.